The Copencabana

Richard Fernandez
Belmont Club
December 21, 2009

Small Dead Animals has a translation of a German article which purports to describe how Barack Obama stormed into a meeting of heads of state, acting like it was a scene from a Hollywood movie. Although the Welt article has the most detail, there are collateral reports from other papers which suggest an extraordinary scene took place, although not necessarily confirming the details of Welt. The question is what happened and what did it signify.

The Welt story follows in its entirety, as translated on Small Dead Animals. But it is a strange story, with odd parts grafted together. Like the Iliad it begins with what might be called the Wrath of Obama as he breaks up a meeting in which the Chinese President, who seemed to be avoiding him, was participating. Then it suddenly becomes a sports drama. The President goes into a huddle with some of his fellow heads of state and then mounts the podium to announce an historic deal. This is the drama that has been highlighted in much of the US coverage, the part in which the President beats the buzzer with a 70 foot jumpshot from the backcourt. Finally, it becomes an escape movie. Because nobody seems to think its a deal who didn’t hear the key lines. No sooner has the President triumphed, then he leaves, with the remaining delegates open-mouthed, not knowing whether their talks have become redundant or are even in conflict with the meteoric One.

His arrival was immediately followed by a pithy presentation. Right after his arrival at the conference center, he let it be known to those present: “The time for [mere] talk is over.” He would assume leadership of the negotiations.

Together with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leaders of Russia, Brazil, Japan, the European Union and of other important countries, Obama went to work. But it did not go quite as the Nobel Peace Prize-winner had imagined. Only Norbert Röttgen, Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety remained optimistic. In spite of the tough negotiations, a compromise can be found, he said. “Today the die will be cast.”

Instead a fiasco had begun making itself visible and felt. It began during the night of Friday and Saturday. A small group of negotiators assembled from among the 30 important and representative countries, among them Germany, were still discussing the main features and principles to be included in a twelve-point document. It was titled “The Copenhagen Accord” and consisted of a three-page collection of vague aims, without specific legally-binding goals that were to be achieved.

Although China is among the worst climate polluters and has had a long ascent in becoming an industrial power deserving of respect and recognition, Premier Wen Jiabao was not among the participants in the talks-not that his participation was not desired. To the contrary!

The account from Copenhagen continues here.

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